Is this just a matter of, Me getting what I needed? Till I was safe upon the other side, Of the international dateline…
Okay, so we have successfully arrived in the USA. Not just in the USA, but we have successfully arrived at our destination of Washington DC – a political geeks dream.
Before we got here though there was the whole process of meeting up with Joey at Richmond Station and getting to Marmi’s where we would crash the night. That all went like clockwork, even with my well predicted warnings that Marmi would try to feed us up good and proper coming true. Joey and I had planned on an early night’s sleep, especially with a 3:30am wake up call and trip to Heathrow ahead of us, but with the excitement and all that it involved…we ended up chatting to about midnight. Who needs a full 4 hours sleep anyway? 😛
To greet us in our sleep deprived state we had a disgusting cab drive. Now I am in no way critiquing his driving (although those comments could also be made) but it is clear that he was not necessarily the cleanest cab driver around. The sounds of his chewing and other noises emanating from the drivers seat would’ve probably put us off more if it wasn’t for the lack of sleep. We even had some lame, soppy love songs to accompany our ride to the airport before the sun had risen.
As result of our preparedness, and in spite of a check in dude who failed at the simplest tasks and didn’t even intially give us our connecting boarding cards, we had some waiting time at the airport. I bought two books (Obama’s Audacity of Hope and a book on the bizarre scientific experiments of history) while we also browsed a variety of other books and magazine. The travel guide for Toronto that Joey found had a disturbing entry about a ramp…but it said don’t ask about it and against our worse judgment I don’t think we will. Waiting time that was made worse the fact that we were on the edge of our seats waiting for the gate of our flight to be announced. All other flights had theirs listed and ours had “please wait” for about 15 minutes which we both think is highly unfair! Although in the end we boarded the plane successfully, took off and we were on our way across the pond.
On the plane we were lucky enough to not only have those personal entertainment screens, but unlike my trip to UK from Australia…the screens worked. There was a limited supply of quality though. In the end, Joey and I both watched Paul Blart: Mall Cop (A movie I had started watching before and never finished but was really enjoyable) and Bride Wars (Not great, but passed the time). The length of the flight could’ve accommodated another movie. Joey, the insomniac that he is, watched Confessions of a Shoppaholic…while I got in an hour of z’s. The trip in the end went rather fast for the amount of time we were in the air and the food was pretty good. The pizza was a little salty, although I didn’t notice, and there was some supposed scrambled eggs with breakfast pancakes that most likely had never seen poultry in it’s life.
We were quickly through customs and USA immigration and we were once again waiting in the airport. One interesting point that I discovered, and was picked up by the immigration official, was that my Australian Passport had been used to enter the USA on 30 May 2006. The last time I was in the USA was as an FPSP Evaluator in 2006 and this would not have been of importance except that today was the 30th of May 2009. I have now been to America twice, and arrived on the same day of the same month each time. It is exactly 3 years since I touched down on these shores last.
Our flight from JFK airport in New York to Regan in Washington D.C. once again went through amazingly smoothly. It did shock me somewhat when I boarded the flight and had to duck my head. It was the SMALLEST plane I have ever seen. It had an 3 seats per row, with an aisle separating them in to lots of 1 and 2 and no more than 30 people would be on the plane. There was just one flight attendant (steward or whatever I am supposed to call them these days) and to our delight he was probably the biggest flight attendant I have ever seen. The smallest plane to take flight since the Wright Brothers was staffed by a 6 foot 5 plus, 200 pound flight attendant. To us it was funny, although I do admit to have giggled slightly when my train was en route to Cockfosters last night and at the name of a rather innuendo named Muffin brand over here.
We managed to master the Washington DC Metro system and arrived after a short walk at our hotel. The Allen Lee Hotel. From the outside, it is a dump. I must remember to take a picture at some stage, but really a lick of a paint would hardly fix this place’s facade. The rooms are clean, if not in too dissimilar condition but the best part about the place is its location. It is spitting’s distance from the Whitehouse and the Mall, right next to George Washington University and means that instead of cabs or public transport, everything we want to do or see is walking distance.
To make the most of our time in DC and the fact that we had a perfect almost summer’s day, we dumped our bags and went for a stroll. Although guided by a map in traditional tourist fashion we struggled to go where we set off to go. We missed the Watergate hotel and Kennedy Centre and stumbled across the Lincoln Memorial (although we made note to leave visiting such a landmark until tomorrow). We did make our way to investigate FDR’s memorial and the Jefferson Memorial as well as seeing the Whitehouse from North and South…it was amazing for this politics nerd. DC is a brilliantly designed city, with amazing greenery, the stature of the buildings is perfect and unlike the “hick”country town it appears, on the face of it, to be a capital you can be proud of. The Washington Monument, which again was left until tomorrow was especially jaw dropping for me as Joey, with glee, highlighted my need to take photos of it from every angle as we walked around the city. If I become a statesman…I want THAT kind of monument please!
Tonight Joey and I went in search of a cocktail bar and although the Washington Hotel Cocktail Bar Terrace was shut (like the hotel) for what looks like renovations we eventually found Ozio’s. With Winston Churchill painted on the wall, a name like “Aussies,” brilliant and rather cheap cocktails, beer on tap and a mixture of jazz and more popular music…we couldn’t find a better local for Joey and I. We drank, chatted and just enjoyed our surroundings.
The one disappointing thing we have noticed about Washington is the poverty. Particularly what appears to be a large proportion of african-american homeless and poverty stricken. The parks are filled with homeless and begging people and the streets at night have people sleeping in sleeping bags. I haven’t seen such poverty in Australia and particularly such poverty targeted on a particular race in a city before. To see such a thing in the capital of what claims to be the leading country of the world is sad….but the city besides that is awesome!!!!
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